SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google told employees on Friday that it would not renew a contract expiring next March to help the U.S. military analyze aerial drone imagery, a person familiar with the matter said, as the company seeks to defuse internal uproar over the deal.
Google plans to honor what is left of its subcontract on Project Maven, the person said. More than 6,400 employees signed a petition calling for Google to cancel the deal, with at least 13 employees resigning in recent weeks in protest at Google’s involvement, according to a second person familiar with the deal.
Company executives have defended the contract, saying that its cloud computing and data analysis tools are being used for non-offensive tasks and would help save lives.
Tech publication Gizmodo first reported on Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene’s statement to employees on Friday, which one source confirmed.
Google declined to comment.
Several hundred employees planned to hold a public rally in San Francisco in July to protest the contract, according to one source. Company officials have told employees in recent months that the small deal was seen as a gateway to further, more lucrative government work, the person said.
It was not immediately clear whether Greene’s remarks on Friday would alleviate employee concerns and if the rally would go ahead.
The company has said it would soon release ethics guidelines for future military contracts.
Reporting by Paresh Dave and Heather Somerville, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien